Roger Stone late Friday acknowledged that he is likely the unnamed American referred to in an indictment of 12 Russian hackers issued by the Justice Department Thursday. Stone is not implicated in the hackers’ theft of Democratic emails, but appears to be one of several Americans whose interactions with the alleged hackers are detailed in the new indictment.
Stone, speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, said “I certainly had a 24 word exchange with the persona Guccifer 2.0 over Twitter direct messages . . . I probably am the person referred to.”
The indictment (which can be read in full at Vox) accuses 12 members of the Russian GRU agency with hacking against staffers and infrastructure of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Those documents were then publicized by two online channels, a site called DCLeaks and a persona known as Guccifer 2.0.
Around August 15 of 2016, while “posing as Guccifer 2.0,” the hackers “wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump,” according to the indictment. The exchange, recounted in paragraph 44 of the indictment, matches a known Twitter interaction with Stone, in which “Guccifer 2.0” praised Stone as a “great man” and offered to help Stone and the Trump campaign.
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Stone, an occasionally close Trump adviser and heir to the Roy Cohn/Richard Nixon school of political ‘dirty tricks,’ has previously confirmed the interaction with Guccifer 2.0. But he reiterated to Cuomo on Friday that the interaction was “benign” and “innocuous,” and the known interaction does not contain evidence of cooperation between Guccifer 2.0 and the Trump campaign.
However, there are hints that the interaction may not have ended on Twitter. A few weeks later, Stone wrote on Twitter that “it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel,” implying foreknowledge of the planned schedule of email leaks – though Stone has claimed that was merely a coincidence. Stone also praised Guccifer 2.0 as “a hero,” however, and wrote an article for Breitbart.com arguing that Guccifer 2.0 was not linked to Russia.
In his conversation with Cuomo, Stone continued to hedge on the question of whether Guccifer 2.0 was in fact a Russian front, emphasizing that the new indictment consists of allegations rather than proven facts. In the face of near-universal consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies on Guccifer 2.0’s links to the GRU, Stone’s denials may suggest anxiety about future findings by Robert Mueller’s investigation. And it certainly reflects his often-repeated modus operandi: “Admit nothing. Deny everything. Launch counter-attack.”